Yes, Sir. A reply is being sent today to the representatives in London of the Federal Public Services Association. It has not been possible to accept suggestions for a general compensation scheme in addition to the terminal benefits, but arrangements for dealing with cases of hardship have been agreed between the Governments. It is our intention to deal with a number of points raised by the Staff Association in the Public Officers Agreement which is shortly to be concluded between the Governments concerned.
In view of the fact that, of course, I cannot comment on the Answer, because I do not understand exactly what it means, may I ask my hon. Friend whether there is a guarantee that in default of any of the undertakings by the Governments concerned, the British Government will accept responsibility? Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that these men have served Central Africa and the community and this country very well indeed? Is he aware that it makes me absolutely livid when we do not accept our proper responsibility and cause anxiety to those who have served our interests so adequately? Is he aware that I hope that this guarantee is in this Answer, and that I should like to know?
Of course, I accept what my hon. Friend says about the great service which has been done by these public servants on behalf of this country and the territories concerned. I should like to remind my hon. Friend that this was an agreement reached jointly between all the Governments concerned, including the British Government, and it has been the intention by this agreement to arrive at arrangements which shall seem to be fair to all the Governments concerned and the public servants involved.
Is the Minister aware that there is a great deal of sympathy among hon. Members on this side of the House for the civil servants because of some of the anomalies that have arisen out of these negotiations? Can he say something about the permanent machinery to be set up to deal with hardship? Will the Government be fully involved in dealing with the hardship cases?
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned the point about hardship. As I said, we hope to be able to make satisfactory arrangements covering the hardship cases. Details of these will be embodied in the agreement to be announced shortly.